State Department employee concealed ‘extensive’ contacts with Chinese intelligence agents, officials say

(WASHINGTON) — A State Department employee with Top Secret clearance allegedly made unreported contacts with Chinese intelligence officials and accepted thousands of dollars in “gifts and benefits,” the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Candace Marie Claiborne, 60, was arrested Tuesday and charged with “obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements in connection with her alleged concealment and failure to report her improper connections to foreign contacts along with the tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits they provided,” according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, of the District of Columbia.

“Claiborne used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit. Pursuing those who imperil our national security for personal gain will remain a key priority of the National Security Division,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord in a statement.

“When a public servant is suspected of potential misconduct or federal crimes that violate the public trust, we vigorously investigate such claims,” acting State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told ABC News. “The Department of State is firmly committed to investigating and working with the Department of Justice and our other law enforcement partners to investigate any allegations of criminal activity and bring those who commit crimes to justice.”

Claiborne, who has been working for the agency since 1999, was arrested on March 28. She pleaded not guilty at a court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Another court hearing was set for April 18. Claiborne could face up to 25 years in prison if she is convicted of the charges of making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding.

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